Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Reminder.

I've had lots of reminders lately.  Reminders about students, reminders about personalities, reminders that it takes effort to stay on top of my game.  I've been reminded (kindly) about things I've forgotten, been reminded by the looks of those I care about that they need me, reminded that it's time for this or time for that. Reminders are constant it seems.  Don't you find yourself saying, "Remind me to ..." or "Hey, don't let me forget to..." 

Yesterday, one of our newest Penngrove teachers reminded me that I hadn't blogged in awhile.  I loved that. I appreciated that she noticed, and it made me want to do better.  A reminder. 

Tonight I am reminded of several things.  It's the eve before I begin the journey known as #GTAMTV. For those of you who aren't familiar with the hashtag, #GTAMTV is the Google Teacher Academy in Mountain View, CA.  Here I sit, in my hotel room with my colleague and buddy, Catina Haugen, and I'm reminded of a feeling I once knew so well when I was in school. There are so many unknowns and if I'm quiet and still for long enough, they wash over me. Where will my classroom be? Will my classmates like me? What time should I leave to get there on time? What should I wear? Will my teacher be nice? Will I know what to do? What if I don't "get" something? How will I know I did something right? Am I going to fit in? If I get confused, should I ask for help? These are all reminders.  Reminders that we shouldn't take for granted as educators. Not this school year, or ever.  I'm a 31 year old principal, who needs assurance, comfort, friendship, love, warmth, and security.  And I can't help but be reminded of the magnitude at which my students must crave those exact things. I am reminded.

Additionally, I am still struggling personally with the fact that I am a part of this cohort of incredible educators from around the globe.  I know quite a few people who applied to be a part of this group. People who inspire me, who make me better at my job, people who I want to learn from each and every day, but people who aren't with us this time around. I'm reminded that we don't always get what we want in life. And it feels hard when we don't see the whole picture in the moment. There will be many things I reach for, opportunities I strive to accomplish, that just won't work out for me.  This week, I'm grateful that this experience is real, but I am reminded that it won't always be so easy.  In that, I find reality, hope, and trust. I'm reminded that each opportunity is a gift.

Finally, I am reminded about the journey I have been on for the past year.  A year ago, I had just attended my first Google Summit.  I was starting my second year as a principal and wasn't exactly sure what CUE, GTA, GAFE, G+ and all of this even stood for. (I might be slightly exaggerating but barely.) Tonight, I am reminded of the people who have invested in me over the past twelve months.  Those who invited me to events, asked me to present, encouraged me to lead my teachers with reckless abandon, those who approved of risk taking along the way. And I can't help but be so full of love for each of those moments in time that added up to this evening before #GTAMTV. 

I am reminded.

Monday, July 7, 2014

And So It Begins...

For those of you who don't know me well, I am not really much of a morning person.  I mean by the time most people actually see me in the morning, I am just fine. Energetic and smiling actually.  But that's after I've hit "snooze" on my alarm about 6 times, have had my cup of coffee, listened to some music to pump me up, and have made about 3 "to do" lists.  Last night as I drifted off to sleep, I prayed that I would wake up right on time this morning, at 5:30am.  I asked for energy, strength, and excitement to just pull me out of bed BEFORE or as my 5:30am alarm was going off.  I think I've only woken up before my alarm about seven times in my entire life time, however at 5:28am today my prayers were answered. Even Mr. Fadeji was graced by my presence this morning as he agreed that he was witnessing a straight up miracle. 

And here I am, early morning on a Monday, super excited to start back to work.  Since my school is on a year round schedule, we have a pretty short summer (I know, poor us...) which means that today, I start back to work, next Monday, our staff starts back to work and Wednesday, our hallways and classrooms will once again be filled with the wonder of children's voices, laughter, and love. 

I've wanted to blog almost all "summer" but like with everything, we all need a break now and then and I decided to practice what I preach by slowing down and giving myself enough down time over the past two weeks to relax and rejuvenate.  After doing the dishes this morning and throwing a load of laundry in the washing machine from our weekend getaway with my family up to Tahoe (6 hour drive home yesterday - solid), I opted for a quick work sesh on my laptop.  And then I saw my neat little stash of goodies waiting for me on the dining room table. 

The book: Yes, I finally read Mindset by Carol Dweck this summer.  Although I was already familiar with the "fixed mindset" and the "growth mindset" through other avenues, it served as a great reminder for how I want to lead.  It made me want to coach the many people I work with and care about into working towards a growth mindset and also challenged my thinking about how to help students become aware of this mindset.  This year, I hope to tackle the "right kind of praise" with my staff. I hope I never hear, "You're so smart" again, but I will, and we will all learn together. Seeing this book reminded me that, I can and should read more often.

The coffee: Well let's just be serious, nothing would have gotten done this morning without that. 

The laptop: It's not the laptop I noticed, although the teal cover is one of my favorite principal accessories, but instead, it's the two cards on top of my laptop.  Unfortunately, those are sympathy cards that I needed to write. It was a summer of loss for many people, and honestly, there are always people around us experiencing a season of loss.  The cards reminded me to never be too busy to stop, take time, and write a note. They also reminded me that so often, we have no clue what those around us are going through.  Yes, we all know this - but do we change our behaviors because of it? We should. Each day this coming year, I hope to be more caring, more compassionate, and more forgiving. 

The nail polish: This summer, I was out to coffee with an educator whom I admire deeply.  This woman honestly models a lot of things for me that I treasure daily. As we were sipping our lattes, talking about real world issues, I couldn't help but be distracted by her perfect, red, gel manicure. And that's when I told myself, this year - I was going to be a little more polished than in the past. Both personally and professionally.  So today, before I step back into work, you can bet your bottom dollar that this girl will have a brand spankin' new coat of "Dream On" and "Taupeless Beach" to serve as a reminder that we all could use a little polishing now and then.

Hot pink post-it notes: You should see what my office looks like.

The dying plant in the background: I almost moved this plant because at first, I thought it made the picture look really tacky but then I laughed (yes, out loud in my kitchen, alone at 5:49am) because it represents something really important and worth remembering.  First of all, I clearly cannot take care of any plant.  My office staff knows that if they don't take care of the plants in our office, they will die immediately. I thought SURELY that at home this "summer" I could handle ONE plant right?! WRONG. This plant represents something really powerful for me. I am not good at taking care of plants.  In fact, there are many things I'm not good at but part of knowing myself is to find my strengths, use them and then draw on the strengths of those around me to make a dynamic team.  On the surface level, we all know things we are good at and things we aren't. However, this year, I hope to dig a little deeper and really identify my weaknesses, my strengths and to make time to coach those around me to do the same.  Can you imagine?  I'm super excited for this venture and I can hardly wait to start reading Strengths Finder by Tom Rath.  (given to me by the mysterious lady with the amazing red nails) 

And there you have it - I'm back at it. Back to school, back to blogging, back to "work" where I find great joy on a daily basis. Back to being in classrooms as much as I possibly can. Back to four square games with seven year olds. Back to trying my best to make sure my staff knows how much I value and appreciate them. Back to late nights and early mornings. Back to all of it. 2014-15 watch out.....it's going to be a magical year.